Thursday, November 22, 2012

Image Fight II

Super CD-ROM

The first Image Fight is no pushover, but I don't think it's nearly as demanding and punishing as many tout it to be. Its sequel, on the other hand, is nightmarishly hard and really seems to revel in the dismembering of players. If you're okay with risking dismemberment, go ahead and take up its challenge--and prepare yourself for a ten-level-long journey that'll demand constant attentiveness and be nothing if not hellish for long stretches at a time. You'll frequently find yourself navigating uncomfortably tight spaces as powerful enemies soar onto the field from the front, side, and rear (and even emerge from the backdrop at particular points). These steel-ship berserkers typically dart about erratically and launch hard-to-evade projectile attacks.

But they do play fair when it comes right down to it. IF2 is tough, but it's seldom cheap, and it actually grants players what amounts to a fairly stacked hand. Back to tag along with you are the series's trademark option pods (blues shoot straight ahead while reds fire in the direction opposite the one you're moving in). You can adjust your craft's speed at any time and acquire a wide variety of highly destructive weapons as you blast apart the enemy legion. And if you experiment with those weapons a bit and give matters some thought, you just might figure out ways to take out the large, formidable bosses with ease.

But even if you're a skilled pilot and a master strategist, you'll have to take a few knocks and endure some frustration as you attempt to make headway in this realm where shooter fans die. You'll also have to remember that you can't afford to let up once you do get on a roll. Like its predecessor, IF2 sends players who fail to destroy a significant portion of the enemy's frontline forces to an extremely difficult "penalty area." But while achieving the kill percentage required to avoid penalization is practically a given in the first game, it takes quite a bit of hard work and smooth flying here.

You won't get much incentive cinematically to continue getting pummeled. IF2's interludes primarily consist of terribly drawn characters chatting within the confines of tiny windows.

The in-game graphics get the job done, however. The rings of Saturn and wavy gas storms make for extremely appealing backdrops. The soundtrack is also of fairly high quality, boasting plenty of tense numbers that lend to the game's sinister air. Image Fight 2 knows that it's brutal, which is why players feel so good once they've put it in its place.

But most people won't get to experience that feeling. Frankly, I don't think there's much fun to be had here for "casual" players, as the game will pound on them mercilessly. And this is no cheapie, so those who whimsically decide to "give it a shot" will have to part with a pretty significant sum of cash to take their thumps. But if you're good--and I mean if you're sure you're good--and you're willing to put in plenty of practice and weather some frustrating times, then go ahead and try to make your way through IF2. The process won't always be enjoyable, but it can prove very rewarding.

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